"F#¢k Thomas Edison. Seriously." OR Death, Humor and Subism

Lightbulb on Flickr

This got me thinking last night, especially when contrasted with this. Tesla’s letterhead is striking, artistic and thought provoking. Edison however goes for a more distinguished look that I think is boring, unoriginal and uncreative even for the time.

Those who know me will tell you, in additon to being a design nerd, that I’ve got a quirky sense of humor. This is often misinterpreted and rubs people the wrong way because I tend to appear like an opinionated jerk. In reality, I like to challenge people’s ways of thinking, I enjoy arguing strange or absurd points and do so with a passion. I don’t always agree with the point I’m making but I enjoy provoking someone sure of their beliefs out of their comfort zone.

I’ve been known to joke about the concept of death and I am fascinated by people’s seriousness around the topic. Whether you’re religious or not, (I’m not) death to me has always seemed like just another phase of life. I’ve lost people I love and in some pretty tragic ways, and I don’t make light of that. However, when I talk of my own death I want people to chuckle, I don’t want to be mourned, I’d much rather there be a big party in my honor than a grieving. I want my sense of humor to be reflected, normal is boring.

I’m very fortunate to have made some amazing friends who, thankfully, appreciate my antagonistic behavior and sense of humor. In the event of my death I’ve made two of them, Dan and Christine, responsible for certain things.  Dan, I’ve asked to eulogize me but only if he leads off with the following:

“John was not a great man, he wasn’t even a good man, but he did have a really sweet setup for his Sega Dreamcast

Thing is, I’m not kidding, he thinks I am but I’m not. I’ve made him promise to say that under penalty of haunting. IE: If he doesn’t say it, and there is a way for me to do it, I will haunt him from the afterlife. And believe me, I will, he knows it too, and assuming he outlives me, Dan has reluctantly agreed.

The other ritual in the event if my death is my headstone inscription, for which Christine is responsible. To explain that, you need to understand something else.

I hate Thomas Edison.

Yeah, I know, pretty random. That statement has a tendency to piss off or confuse people. Especially coming from someone who works in technology, claims to be a Buddhist (it’s called “practicing” for a reason) and really tries not to use the word “hate” anymore.

But seriously, fuck Thomas Edison.

I’m not discounting his impact on the world at large, I just think the man was an asshole. We grow up being taught a lot of things in elementary school that we accept as truths that later in life we often learn the horrible reality about. Need an example? Christopher Columbus was a brutal murder who discovered nothing, Gandhi beat his wife and Sylvester Stallone is not that tall in person.

People tend not to know the truth about Edison. The more I learn about him, the more respect I have for him as a businessman and the less respect I have for him as an actual human being. It doesn’t take much research to learn that Edison is a thief who ripped off the bulk of the work he is credited for and employed thugs to do his dirty work.

However, when I tell this to people (especially those from New Jersey) they often don’t believe me, “How could you seriously speak ill of ‘The father of invention?!'”

Then I show them this:

They usually get it then.

Yes, Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant in an effort to show the superiority of his direct current vs. Nikola Tesla’s alternating current. Edison’s rivalry with Tesla is extremely well documented and the man went to outlandish lengths to prove himself right, to discredit Tesla and to destroy his life.

In the end, Edison was wrong but he managed to nearly erase Tesla from the popular vernacular. To this day most in our society while most have no clue who Tesla was and think of Edison when they think of electricity.

Learning of this made me rethink much of what I thought I knew. I love occurances like that, stuff that subvert and disrupt the status quo and evoke thought. That, to me, is what subism is about.

It’s because of my beliefs as a subist and these enlightening truths that I want my death to not be taken seriously, I’d rather make someone laugh at society or think than cry for me. This is why I’ve also made Christine responsible inscription on my headstone, which will read exactly as follows:

“Fuck Thomas Edison. Seriously.”

If that offends you, good. If it makes you smile, even better.

13 thoughts on “"F#¢k Thomas Edison. Seriously." OR Death, Humor and Subism

  1. Elephant aside, I’m a fan of this post. This comes from someone who had their mom write “You’re an overstatement!” on her graduation cake. I couldn’t tell you why, but I suppose I wanted people to feel confused and then laugh as if they were in on some sort of joke that they didn’t fully understand.

    Anyway, I fully support your decision to include Sega in your eulogy. And if I’m still alive, I will visit that tombstone so I can take a photo and post it to Twitter, Flitter or whatever version we have in the future.

  2. Fuck you getting a grave. You get a massive Tesla coil. Josh and I will build it. It will be forty feet tall, and all of the metal will have gold filigree spelling out “Fuck Thomas Edison…seriously.” It will be epic. And when the weeping women come to mourn you, ripping their hair and rending their flesh, I will nod wisely and say, “Children, The Great One is not here. If you truly love him, you will go find Dan, for he is the one that fucked up the eulogy and is getting his ass haunted for the rest of time. Now go, I have some soldering to do.” And it will be good.

    So say we all.

    (ps you’re awesomesauce(tm))

  3. Well, it is not totally unlikely that Tesla — in his almost infinite creativity and unlimited genius — even secretely devised a machine to do the dirty work for you, so no one has to humble himself as much as to literally f* Thomas ALVA… ALVA!!!!! Edison… even less posthumously what makes it ever so slightly more gruesome.

  4. Ya know? . . . I’m feeling pretty low these days (no job, behind on bills, trouble with my wife, blah blah blah,) so I adjusted my mood, poured a tall beer and sat on the couch in the darkness of my living room to watch anything (probably Frontline,) and just relax for a bit while my two boys slept. I opened the laptop, got online and saw some clever Google logo. I’m not much of a computer person, but I know that usually marks a holiday, or birthday of someone famous or whatever . . . so I move the cursor over to the image and find out it’s Thomas Edison’s hundred-something birthday, and, without hesitation, I sit up, flip the bird and yell “Fuck Thomas Edison!” I didn’t have to even think about it. One minute I’m fine . . . the wife is out, the boys are sleeping, the utilities are still on, I’m drinking beer by myself . . . in the dark . . . . the next I’m cursing out loud and feeling weird about myself at the same time. Why do I Care? . . . What did that guy ever do to me? And then I remember . . . oh yeah this guy was like . . . 45 times worse than my wife thinks I am. This guy sucks. So, I sit back with the computer, and type in what I just yelled . . . and I found you. Might night is most certainly back on track. Thanks man.

  5. I too found you today as I just decided to google “Fuck Thomas Edison”, based on the designer Google logo du jour commemorating his birthday today.

    If there is room on your headstone, please consider adding– “Fuck Ray Kroc and Bill Gates too. Please feel free to add to this list in purple crayon below.”

    There is something wrong when the unimaginative opportunist takes from the true genius. Period. And if the wheel of karma spins rightly it will roll over this type of asshole anytime it gets a chance, and they will spend the rest of their lives “smoking a turd in hell” (a favorite saying of an old friend).

    And p.s., the purple crayon is in honor of a supremely creative one who has inspired me through my life– Harold, from “Harold and the Purple Crayon”.

    Peace.

  6. Wow. Thanks for the outpouring of support everyone. It’s encouraging that my bitter loathing for this horrible man can make your lives better.

    Cheers!

  7. If you’re such a “design nerd”, why have you chosen a background image which makes the text painful to read?

  8. Believe me, I could have written the same post, except that I cannot write correctly in English, that I do not know who that two friends of yours are, that I DO “discount his impact on the world at large”, and that I don’t know what subism means. I mean it.

  9. Tim – That’s the first time i’ve been given that feedback with this revision, readability is something I’ve been very conscious to ensure, so thanks I’ll look into it. You wouldn’t by chance be able to tell me what browser / os you are using? Thanks!

    Saverio – Subism is a word I made up, which is why you’ve never heard of it. Thanks for stopping in!

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